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* A non technical account of the BRM story.
* The story as seen by a BRM mechanic.
* Many previously unpublished photographs.
* Authors opinion of reason for BRM decline.
* How privileged we were to be BRM team members.
* The pleasure of Continental travel in the 1950s.
* Despite the early failures, we were always optimistic.
* The comradeship within the team.
* The privilege of working with great racing drivers.
* The pride in victory.
Probably for the first time, criticism is leveled at both Louis Stanley, and the introduction of the H16 engine as contributory factors to the failure of British Racing Motors. Louis Stanley for his freeloading extravagance, and the rather foolish decision by the management to specify such a complicated and bulky power unit.
This is the story as told by a man who was both a devoted fan and a loyal team member of British Racing Motors. Who saw and was involved in the repeated failures and humiliating times of the 1950's, through the gradual progress of winning minor races to Jo Bonnier winning the first World Championship Grand Prix in Holland in 1959. Culminating in the ultimate honour in 1962, when, in East London, South Africa, Graham Hill drove the BRM to victory to win both the drivers World Championship and the Constructors Championship for the BRM team. Thereby making a considerable contribution to British motor racing history.
Review from Sports Car Market, May 2008
Like the perfect garage pass, Dick Salmon takes you deep inside the story of BRM racing through his experiences as a mechanic, from the early '50s through the mid-'60s. It's the days of experimentation, failure, and ultimately a World Championship for the team behind the talents of Graham Hill. Salmon offers a mixture of up-close and personal history of the team blended with driver antics and more than enough anecdotes to keep the smiles coming. Like a friend in the pub, the ratio of information to storytelling is low, but that's the charm of it all.
Hard to argue with the guy who was there. A great photo record as well.
Fit and finish: ***
The reproduction is high quality and the mix of black and white and '60s color is well handled. 'A Mechanic's Tale' sits on the dividing line between memoir with photos and photo book with memoir. No matter, every page turned brings another gem.
The stories of the drivers and events are often overshadowed by the 'mechanic's tales,' which may mean way too many vignettes at roadside cafes rather than race tracks for some readers. But the fresh, straightforward prose makes it worthwhile.
Review by Patrick Quinn for Australian Classic Car, July 2007
BOOK OF THE MONTH
There have been a number of publications on British Racing Motors over the years but I can't recall any written from a mechanic's perspective. Dick Salmon started with BRM for the 1952 season when the English racing car manufacturer was having a less than successful time with the V16 Mark 1. This isn't a car by car, race by race description of BRM's history, although there are certainly descriptions of the cars and races. It is more on what it was like to be a mechanic, what they did to get the cars ready, how they travelled from race to race, even to where they stopped for lunch on their journeys across Europe. The frustration at BRM's lack of success comes across palpably but so does the elation when, during the rear engine era, Graham Hill joined the team and quickly bought success.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly, especially Salmon's conversational style, which makes it a delight to read. What also places it heads above the rest is the selection of photos. Not surprisingly, the photos are not necessarily what you would have seen in the press of the time but would more likely have been found in the personal photo albums of people involved. I particularly like the photo taken inside an aircraft en route to Casablanca, showing the cars stowed on one side of the cabin with passengers on the other.
A top choice for historians and certainly our book of the month.
Review from totalkitcar.com, June 2007
A superb large format book with 224 pages and over 300 images (85 of them colour) and typical of the good work and attention to detail that Veloce Publishing are known for. Recommended addition to the bookshelf.
Review from The Automobile, June 2007
Only a racing mechanic knows how a racing mechanic lives. As racing journalists, we would see them fettling away at the tracks, and perhaps know they had just done an all-nighter, but team managers would never allow us to get close enough to know what had really been between one race and the next. Dick Salmon's story takes us behind the scenes of BRM from the day he joined the company in 1950 to the time he left in 1967. He tells it from the inside with perceptive comments on all the personalities involved from Raymond Mays, Peter Berthon and Tony Rudd downwards.
It isn't a series of lap by lap accounts of the races he attended, but a story of what went on between the events, told in a light-hearted fashion which belies the actual effort that went into raising the BRM profile from laughing stock to championship winners (1962) and beyond. What makes this book a particularly good contribution to history is the wonderful selection of photographs. Tribute is given to the Bourne Heritage Centre for these, but many were obviously taken by the author and his colleagues.
While BRM employment occupied much of Salmon's working life, we are given short accounts of his early days and army service, and his life after BRM, which took him to Lotus (road cars), Perkins and Fiat-Alliss. The closure of the latter came at the right moment for him to help restore the various BRMs prior to their auction in 1981.
What comes across particularly well is that those hard-working mechanics really enjoyed their lives.
Review from MotorSport magazine, May 2007
At atmospheric account of BRM at the factory and on the road, from mechanic Salmon's first trip abroad testing the V16s at Monza in 1952, through descriptions of Alfred Owen's displeasure at the many BRM failures to Jo Bonnier's breakthrough win in the 1959 Dutch GP and Graham Hill clinching the 1962 world title. All this is set delightfully in context by tales of travel and, of course, celebration parties.
It's illustrated with copious contemporary photographs of races and informal snaps, sprinkled with passes, programme covers and hotel flyers.
Review by Mike Goodbun for Classic Cars, May 2007
Mechanic, Dick Salmon, worked at BRM from 1951 to '67 so he's perfectly placed to shed fresh light on what it was really like to work for Raymond Mays' Lincolnshire-based race team. His tale includes hilarious anecdotes of transport mishaps and border crossings, the elation of BRM's highs and the misery of its lows.
Photography is mostly black-and-white, but also includes intimate colour scene-capturing by Anthony Carter (Motor Racing - Reflections of a Lost Era). All 224 pages are refreshingly simply laid-out.
It's an essential purchase for BRM fans, but you don't have to know about BRM to enjoy it.
Review from Hot4s.com.au (Australia), May 2007
It's quite a special book for those in the know. You see, it details the rise and subsequent fall of the great British Racing Motors, which was something of an emotional roller-coaster for Pommie pride throughout the '50s and '60s. The sheer research that must have gone into this thing, not to mention trying to pull aIl these photos from archives and what have you, must have been absolutely astronomical, and if you're a fan of British motor-racing history, you'll no doubt turn every page with either a tear in your eye or a hand on your heart.
Review from Classic & Sports Car, April 2007
GP mechanic Salmon provides a fresh insight into life at BRM in this autobiography, written with Anthony Carter. From childhood in rural Lincolnshire to BRM's glory year in 1962 - when Graham Hill and the team won Fl's driver's and constructor's championships - Salmon covers it all.
There's also a wealth of superb photos. First-hand histories of motor sport in the '50s are rare, and this story is a joy. Highly recommended.
Review from New Zealand Classic Car, Spring 2007
The story of BRM is pretty well known but this book gives so many new angles on it. No matter how much you think you know about this period of racing, you'll find out new stuff, and have a smile on your face much of the time.
It's a decent sized book, with 220 large pages. There's also a really first class selection of photos, many of which are all the better for being for being candid, behind the scenes pics, often taken on the road and in the workshop or the pits.
One of the best motor sport books I've read for ages: very highly recommended.
Review from Startline magazine, February 2007
This is the real BRM story as told by a man who was both a devoted fan and loyal team member of the British Racing Motors Team. Packed with previously unpublished photographs and racing memorabilia, the book traces the team's continental travel and explores the comradeship which existed between the team members.
Review by Stuart Davey for British Racing Mechanics Club, February 2007
It is a book that I found fascinating in the detail of the Graham Hill championship year of 1962 and subsequently with many photographs which have never been published before covering the years as it does from the V16 to the advent of the P261 monocoque cars along with the arrival of JYS. The tale is bought to a close with Dick being made redundant at BRM and moving to Lotus and finally ends at Goodwood, very apt.
In conclusion, I heartily recommend it and its well worth the cover price for the photographs alone.